Study on liability of companies in Netherlands for subsidiaries' involvement in human rights abuses

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Article
28 January 2010

[PDF] Introduction note

Author: René van Hell, Ministry of Economic Affairs of the Netherlands

Increasingly, stakeholders wonder to what extent companies could be held liable for not respecting internationally recognised fundamental rights and if Dutch courts provide access to justice. Following a parliamentary debate in March 2009, the minister for Foreign Trade announced a study on this issue... The purpose of this study is to clarify the possibilities within the Netherlands’ legal framework for making Dutch companies liable for violations by their foreign subsidiaries’. This includes an international perspective on legal issues that are considered to be relevant, such as access to the national court in the country of the parent company.

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Article
28 January 2010

[PDF] Summary of study into the legal liability of Dutch parent companies for subsidiaries’ involvement in violations of fundamental, internationally recognised rights

Author: Professor A.G. Castermans, Leiden Univ. & deputy judge at The Hague district court; Dr. J.A. van der Weideans and Dr. J.A. van der Weide, Leiden Univ., for Ministry of Economic Affairs of the Netherlands

This report describes the questions a Dutch civil court will ask in assessing the liability of a Dutch company for involvement in the violation of fundamental, internationally recognised rights. It focuses more specifically on the liability of a Dutch legal person for a subsidiary operating abroad, but also looks into liability for suppliers. The report was commissioned by the Minister for Foreign Trade of the Netherlands and is intended to serve as a basis for debate on:
• the conclusions of a study to be commissioned by the European Commission into the legal framework on human rights and the environment, applicable to European enterprises operating outside the EU;
• the framework put forward by [UN Special Representative] John Ruggie...
[refers to cases brought by Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie) & members of Nigerian Oruma community in Netherlands against Shell]

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